Chistopher Hitchens has undergone voluntary waterboarding, and concludes, “if waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.”
Hitchens of course trusted his “captors,” knew that every effort would be made to protect his health, and had the benefit of a pre-arranged stop signal. How different from a detainee, who would be waterboarded involuntarily in a hostile environment where deaths have occurred, probably after a long period of “stress positions” and sleep deprivation, and perhaps other forms of mistreatment.
It is obscene that the Bush administration decided to use a technique we deemed a war crime when performed by Japan in World War II.
But even aside from concerns about morality and efficacy, what does it say that Cheney and Rumsfeld looked to our military’s SERE program for thinking about interrogation–this was the program that prepared service members to withstand torture by the Evil Empire and its proxies. The predictable result was that we adopted exactly the methods used to extort false confessions from US servicemen during the Korean War.